Our 'Corty' awards: A look back at Cortland


To commemorate the New York Jets breaking camp Thursday in Cortland, New York, we present our second annual "Corty" awards -- highlights and lowlights of the last three weeks:

PLAYER WHOSE STOCK IMPROVED MOST: Antonio Allen. When camp started, he was in a three-way battle at safety, along with Dawan Landry and Calvin Pryor. When Dee Milliner got hurt, the coaches turned to Allen to play cornerback, hoping his football instincts can compensate for his lack of experience at the position. If he plays well in the preseason games, it could turn into a permanent gig, even when Milliner returns. Hear that, Dimitri Patterson?

PLAYER WHOSE STOCK DROPPED MOST: Darrin Walls. He started three games last season and played in 289 defensive snaps, but when Milliner went down, he was leap-frogged by Ellis Lankster and Allen, a converted safety.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER: Brian Winters. After a rough rookie year, Winters has settled down nicely at left guard. He's playing with more technique and control than last season, when he basically tried to mug every defender who crossed his path. He was one of the standouts in the preseason opener. Even though Oday Aboushi is pushing, Winters will retain his starting job.

CONSPICUOUSLY QUIET: Patterson. He hasn't had a chance to do much because of various injuries, but that's the point. He has missed 33 of the last 48 games due to injuries, yet he was tabbed by the Jets to replace Antonio Cromartie at corner.

WORST MOMENT: Milliner's ankle injury. The crowd at practice fell silent, knowing the potential ramifications of losing one of the most important players on the team.

WORST MOMENT II: Dexter McDougle's season-ending knee injury. It happened in a routine, non-contact drill, underscoring the fragility of football careers. One false step, and everything can change.

BEST MOMENT: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The Jets showed their creativity by having the Cortlandville Fire Department douse them with cold water. It was a cool moment on many levels -- and for a good cause.

MOST OVERBLOWN STORY: Michael Vick and the Wildcat. This isn't Tebow 2.0. It won't be a big part of the offensive package; it may not even be a small part. Somehow, I don't think Jets fans will be disappointed if it's not.

THE AL GROH "ROCKS DON'T CHANGE" AWARD: Breno Giacomini. The new right tackle shows up every day, does his job (does it well, too) and doesn't say much. It's early, but this looks like a good pickup.

HIGHEST-PAID MEMBER OF MEDIA: Rex Ryan. It was only a cameo, but he showed he's quotable even when he's asking the questions.

WAYNE CHREBET UNDERDOG AWARD: A.J. Edds. The former Miami Dolphins draft pick was invited to minicamp as a non-roster player. Not only did he earn a contract, but now he has an excellent chance to make the team. He's working with the second-team defense at inside linebacker, excelling in pass coverage.

GOOD SPORT AWARD: Tajh Boyd. We lost count of his interceptions, but the rookie quarterback never lost his trademark smile. He remained remarkably upbeat despite tough days on the practice field. It's a good quality to have.

BEST ROOKIE OR FIRST-YEAR PLAYER NO ONE IS PAYING ATTENTION TO: T.J. Barnes. It's a $10 cab ride to get around him. Dude is 6-foot-7, 364 pounds -- and he dropped 20 pounds in the offseason. The Jacksonville Jaguars castoff could stick as the sixth defensive lineman, if they keep six.

BEST NICKNAME: "Sasquatch." It belongs to tight end Zach Sudfeld, who is 6-foot-7, 260 pounds and wears a long ponytail. He also happens to be having an excellent camp.

MEMORABLE QUOTE: "I don't think it's tilted at all." -- GM John Idzik on the quarterback "competition," which saw Smith receive 81 percent of the first-team reps in Cortland.

MEMORABLE QUOTE II: "They've won their Super Bowls, they've earned their stripes and they're respected, but we're not going to bow down to them." -- Willie Colon on the New England Patriots.

MEMORABLE QUOTE III: "Let the Browns take a page out of our playbook, if you will." -- Ryan zinging former protege Mike Pettine while nominating the Cleveland Browns to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.